I love calling my Babcia. I wish I could live near her and visit her often. She is, to me, the definition of a wise woman. A true Babcia.
This time, when I called her, I also had my Tato on the phone with her.
We talked about Christmas and the winding Pre-war stairs of my cousins apartment in Wroclaw. The house was one of many which were once probably owned by nobility or merchants. There is a courtyard with doors that, if you stop and just look, you could imagine a horse drawn carriage coming home from some event and entering the courtyard to prepare for night and rest.
My Babcia walked up the stairs with some of my family to celebrate Christmas together. The building was once beautiful. But it has fallen to some neglect.
My Tato and Babcia discussed politics and why the building is not being restored the way I dream it could be every time I visit.
In my eyes, I envision discovering the original paint color under the current flaking layers. I imagine the stairs being repaired and the banister re polished and properly attached to the walls. Walls which probably once bore family portraits.
I imagine the rotting wooden family crest of whoever once owned the house being carefully researched and restored.
I imagine beautiful light fixtures bringing light to the dark corners that always make my breathe stop in fear. Imagined figures always hide in those recesses waiting for me.
I imagine the house is made a historical site and so much more...
My Babcia tells me that she has mailed me two recipes for Kidneys which should be tasty. She chuckles as she says this and I tell her how I traumatized my children with the last attempt.
The conversation leads to her time in France when her family tried to avoid WWII and it's atrocities.
She and my father both said that they could never imagine eating snails. That perhaps it's because they have some sort of attachment to those green shelled garden residents that every Pole sees throughout the warm days of summer.
I told my Babcia that I have eaten snails. Slimaki. Hiding in a lot of garlic, butter and parsley. At, of all places, a restaurant in Western Maryland called Old South Mountain Inn (I love that restaurant, by the way).
That my East Coast hippy husband, who had never eaten anything like it, had ordered it immediately thinking of me and that we had all really enjoyed it. Even my then 2 year old older daughter.
That it tasted like... well, a garden. There was something in the taste that reminded me of clams. Wonderful. I was pronounced an adventurous eater.
My Tato reminded me that the snails eaten in France are actually harvested in Poland. I had once watched a television show discussing the snails of Poland and why the French could not raise and harvest their own snails.
My Babcia found that to be very funny and we talked about various dishes we loved and which we didn't.
My Babcia told me that she missed doing Tai Chi everyday. That she would go to the local park and do it with a group of other older residents and that it cleared her eczema. I have decided that I would start doing Tai Chi again as well.